by Dr. Lorna Jansen, Psychologist at The Center
The holidays can be a wonderful time of gatherings accompanied by laughter and sweet time with loved ones. They can also bring additional commitments to already busy schedules and increased financial demands. Being in close proximity with family and co-workers at holiday events can lead to difficult conversations and stir up a variety of emotions. Ironically, some of us feel most isolated at this time of year, whether by the crush of crowds or the increased pressure we feel to be happy. Others are mourning the loss of people we care about. Below you’ll find some tips to help you navigate this holiday season:
1. Take care of yourself
- Drink plenty of water and eat a healthy diet, focusing on fruits, vegetables and quality proteins
- Go for a walk outside or take a class at your local gym
- Engage in your favorite activities often, with a goal of doing one positive thing for yourself each day
- Do your best to turn off all screens an hour before bedtime and make time for adequate sleep
- Use a meditation app like Calm or Insight Timer to help you process what you are feeling, or an app like Gratitude to help you focus on your blessings
2. Set reasonable expectations for yourself and for others
- Consider your values and how that can direct where you spend your energy this year
- Call a family meeting and discuss what is important to each member this holiday season
- Map out what different weeks or holiday travels will look like for the children in your life so that they know what to expect
- Plan to be flexible – with expectations, with normal routines, with emotions that may arise in the hustle and bustle
- If finances are tight and you cannot afford to buy gifts for all of your family members and friends, suggest a planned or white elephant gift exchange
3. Ask for help
- If you need help buying gifts, decorating, baking cookies, or hosting a party, ask for help from friends and family
- Enlist the help of online retailers to ship and wrap your gifts, and order prepared meals from your local grocery store
- If you are part of a faith community, ask for prayer and practical help where it is available.
- If you are struggling with feelings of depression or anxiety and are having a difficult time functioning, rally your support structure and consider seeking out a professional
The message at the holidays is that “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.” To many people, perhaps more than will readily admit it, that is just not the case. As such, the best thing you can do is to take care of yourself and your family, while practicing compassion for yourself and others. Follow these steps and if you need more help, please reach out to us or a therapist in your area.
Dr. Lorna Jansen works with individuals of all ages who are dealing with anxiety, depression, ADHD and life transitions. She is a Psychologist at the Center for Neuropsychology and Counseling in Warrington.